Archive for February 16th, 2007

The Pressure to Produce

The modern human knows the feeling well – after a mentally taxing day, your free time suffocated by an endless list of small things that need done, places to go to, or documents to read – you sit back onto your couch with a beer and feel you’ve got nothing to show for your efforts except caffeine jitters. You didn’t get as much done as you wanted, there’s still so much to do …

It’s a frustrating lifestyle, but one that’s become accepted – if you really want something, you’ve got to produce, deliver, execute, grind. The actions we make are reduced to utilities for our getting ahead, and something feels lost in this process.

Seattle based hip-hop group Common Market, who I fell in love with during my stint home over the winter, seems to offer a reaction to this in the track ‘Push’:

Suffocated by the pressure to perform
And the pressure to produce
and the pressure to conform to the norms
Animated by the pressure to succeed
And the pressure to succumb
and the pressure to believe in a cause
Predicated on the pressure to accept
And the pressure to explain
and the pressure to perfect
What is inherently flawless, in all this
Recognize your right to push backā€¦

So if we’re not all chasing success, then what the hell are we doing here, right? What are we doing going to college and working jobs and trying to do something with ourselves?

As I chatted today with an acquaintance, who is a literature scholar from New Zealand, I expressed to him my frustrations about never feeling like I had anything to show at the end my day, after the hours of class and readings:

“I know,” he said to me, “You don’t have a house, or a table that you built.” He paused and then tapped his temple, “But you’re building up your mind, and your spirit.”

Then he headed off to the library.

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